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In a new league this year - Barousse Balés Cyclosportive

tripyreneesby tripyreneesAug 8th 2010
In a new league this year - Barousse Bals Cyclosportive
Great day today, one, I was racing with Lewis, two the sportive is on our doorstep and three, I really wanted to test myself.

The Barousse Balés Cyclosportive is 120 Km and takes in 5 climbs, The cote de Barbazan, Col d' Izaut a Juzet, Col des Ares, Cote de Siradan and the Hors Category climb of the Port de Balés. It was a glorious day with no clouds in the sky and a good strong breeze.

Myself and Lewis lined up along with a guest, Edd, who is more than capable on a bike, probably Cat 1/2 status. We head out to 0 Km which was about 2 km from the start. The pace, as always, is fast and people (including me) are trying to get towards the front of the near 400 peloton. We hit the first hill and as I know these like the back of my cycling mitt I rode up it no problem but hearing people dropping chains and struggling with heavy gear changes, made me smile. I just didn't want to lose sight of the front of the group. Lewis had taken off and I saw him on the arrowhead...not again, I thought.

We hit the first real test which is 2 Km and 9%. The group breaks apart but I keep going with a good pace. I am starting to ride 9% at about 13 km/hr and I was passing a few, although many were passing me. I kept thinking to myself, keep it real and pace, I will get these back by the end of the ride.

I sprint past the guys in front to get to the top with a clear decent knowing I never use my brakes on this section and I wanted all the advantage I could get. I catch another group and take on the Category 3 climb of the Col des Ares which just happens to be our Time Trial course. This is 6.7 Km at 5%. I was keeping with two guys and pulling away from the main group. We were catching stragglers off the lead group too. It was a steady 19/20 kph up and I was buzzing. I felt strong and in control and could not believe the difference to last year. I sprinted again for the top and went over to give me a clear descent and again zero braking required for the whole of the 8 km to the bottom.

I had a couple of guys on my wheel and I pulled then to the small group up ahead, which just happened to include Lewis. Blimey, I had caught my son up so my climbing has definitely come on. We rode together to the next test, the cote de Siradan, a 5 Km 6% climb. This was no bother and averaged around 22 kph. The groups had split into stragglers now and I had two guys in front pulling me through the final section to the Port de Balés. I really wanted to kill this climb, 19 Km averaging around 9%. The first section is easy and I was pulling away from everyone, I was riding at 28 Kph up hill, what was going on. I got to the steep section (the last 12 Km) and it goes to 10% with not much let up. I sat and pedaled at a decent tick, around 12 to 13 kph and passed Julie and Aimee who were shouting us on from the side. The lead group was only 1 min 30 seconds ahead, with Edd about 1 min ahead and Lewis 30 seconds. can that be, the lead group just up the road.

I could not even feel the climb in my legs, I was taking Gels (I had 4 for the race) and felt good and I was ticking the kilometers off without a worry. I then realised that no one had passed me and I had passed around 30 so far. With 2 Km to go I was passed by a fit looking guy and I stuck on his wheel for the 16% section. I then took it out and went over the top having passed about 50 people and only being passed once. Compared to last year this was the complete opposite.

There were aid stations on the top of each climb but I had my goal of the GOLD award in my mind and sub 4 hours. I just took off over each climb. I descended the Balés behind a local Luchon rider. He knew the corners just as well as me and we took it out at over 70 kph. It was a strong headwind so I was happy to have him in front. where the Balés joins the Peyresoude, the marshals had stopped all traffic and we whizzed past which felt great.

We got to Luchon at 3:15 and I had 30 km to go. This is definitely possible as there is a 200m overall descent to the finish. But a massive headwind. There were three of us working together. I could see a group up ahead. Come on, I was yelling to the two guys. They just didn't seem to be putting the effort in. Finally we caught the group and starting working together. But again they we slow, pulling at 35 kph where it needed to be 40 kph. Each time I went through I upped the pace a little but by the time I was on the front again it had dropped, only for me to up it again. I was getting frustrated and started yelling to the guys "Allez, allez". We upped it and I started taking more and more turns on the front until it was just two off us working with the others clinging on. In the distance I could see a lone cyclist. We came up pretty fast and I noticed it was Lewis. We had 3 Km to go and he had blown. I got to the front and pushed his butt along and he managed to get on the group.

I was now ready for the finish - we had 2 mins to go and only about a kilometer. I could do it!!. But then with 1 km to the finish (or so I thought) the marshals directed us off to the left, to add on another 2 km. Nooooooo - oh well, no sub 4 hours today but at least I can take out a sprint. I know these roads so well and got two people in front of me. Sharp right over bridge, right turn, through thin village road, sharp right, down a very fast tight descent, 300m and a 90 degree right - I was flying and when I hit that right turn the marshals were screaming at me to slow down....not likely..... I went for the sprint with 200m to go. I din't know there was a guy on my wheel and he came round me just as we hit the line.... I think I got it but if not it was great fun.

I felt great, Lewis came over a few seconds later. Edd had finished 10 mins earlier taking 9th place overall and 7th in his category. Lewis was 35th overall with 11th in his category (same as Edd 18 to 29). I was 32nd and 7th in my category (40 to 49) with a time of 4 hours 3 mins.

I am ecstatic, I was 32nd out of 400 riders which is a massive difference from last year where I was around half way down the field and puking at the end. So the weight loss and the 7000 km of riding this year is paying off big time and I feel I am in a totally different league than before, I might be able to call myself a climber one of these days. Roll on the Cat 3 license and new club we are waiting for and the cross season.

happy chappy.
902charlby member: 902charl, Aug 18th 2010 14:37
Bon Courage.

(Or what-ever they say in Le France)

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